Those who are not regular NFL viewers probably best know Charissa Thompson as one half of the podcast duo who apparently suggested that Taylor Swift date Travis Kelce. That has not, however, immunized Thompson to the beating she’s taking in the press this week, not just from other sideline reporters but from journalists of all stripes.
The criticism of Thompson is 100 percent fair. “I’ve said this before, so I haven’t been fired for saying it, but I’ll say it again,” she said on the Pardon My Take podcast. “I would make up the [Halftime] report sometimes.” She said that “the coach wouldn’t come out at halftime, or it was too late and … I didn’t want to screw up the report, so I was like, ‘I’m just going to make this up.’”
There’s probably little difference to the average viewer between a halftime report sourcing a coach and a made-up halftime report because halftime reports are useless. Thompson, who hosts the pre-and-post show on Amazon’s Thursday Night Football, as well as working for Fox Sports, admitted as much herself, noting that “no coach is going to get mad” if she attributed sports cliches to them. ‘Hey, we need to stop hurting ourselves, we need to be better on third down, we need to stop turning the ball over and do a better job of getting off the field.’”
Weather reports in San Diego are mostly useless, too, but that doesn’t mean it’s OK to make them up. It’s not the first time that Thompson has admitted as much. She and her podcast co-host, Erin Andrews, have admitted to improvising when coaches didn’t give them anything to work with.
Other sideline reporters, however, have not been forgiving. “This is absolutely not ok, not the norm and upsetting on so many levels,” CBS’s Tracy Wolfson tweeted. Michelle Tofoya, a former sideline reporter, was also critical, tweeting, that “this is professional fraud. If a coach won’t talk to you at halftime, you say that. And if there is no report, then you just don’t file a report at half time. It’s pretty simple. Journalistic integrity is paramount.” Lisa Salters added that she was “Shocked. Disappointed. Disgusted.”
On Instagram, Thompson has tried to quell the backlash. “Working in media I understand how important words are and I chose the wrong words to describe the situation. I’m sorry,” she wrote. “I have never lied about anything or been unethical during my time as a sports broadcaster.” She added that she never “attributed anything I said to a player or a coach,” only that she created her report using information she had gathered from watching the game.
“I have nothing but respect for sideline reporters and for the tireless work they put in behind the scenes and on the field,” Thompson continued. “I am only appreciative and humbled to work alongside some of the best in the business and call them some of my best friends.”
It’s unclear if the response will quiet her critics, some of whom have called for her to be fired. As with all things, the social media response has been outsized. Personally, I don’t know what the big deal is: I made up Riverdale recaps for years, and no one seemed to mind.